Jun 6, 2008

"Shwmae Butt" Gets Its Own Dictionary Definition

This week, Monday 2 June, in the company of humourist David Jandrell, author of such bestselling local titles as Welsh Valleys Humour, a packed audience listened to homely examples of the Valleys dialect being elevated to dictionary definition. English terms familiar to us all, like “bopa”, “cwtch”, “butt”, “jiw!” and “come by ‘ere” are included in a new book by Cardiff author Robert Lewis: Wenglish, The Dialect of the South Wales Valleys. Published by Y Lolfa in dictionary-format, this title combines the practical qualities of a reference book – alphabetical glossary, dialogue examples, grammar, exercises and all – with a general introduction to the social and geographical context of how we speak across the south Wales Valleys. And it’s not just those familiar terms that are explored here. Alongside oddities like “icelider” for a “custard slice” are loans from Welsh like “dirĂ¢n” for “past its best”, and geographically-isolated strange pronunciations such as “hool” for “whole”. Fans of writer Rachel Trezise’s literary codifications of Valleys’ underlife speech will also be happy to discover her coining of “gorrw”, “gerrin!” and “egsackly” have been approved by linguistic specialists.

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